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Order your Christmas gifts right now or there may be nothing to open on Dec. 25

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Oct. 13, 2021.

AMMON – With a nationwide labor shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the holiday shopping season fast approaching, the Postal Service and local shipping companies are gearing up for an unusually busy year.

Dane Croft, owner of Ship Pro in Ammon, tells EastIdahoNews.com those who wait until Black Friday to begin making online Christmas purchases may experience a delay in delivery. To ensure packages arrive on time, he’s encouraging you to get started right now.

“Our drivers are amazing, and they work their tails off all day every day and especially during the Christmas season. But this is an anomaly,” Croft says. “This year probably isn’t the best year to procrastinate (making online holiday purchases).”

The recommended ship-by dates for timely delivery vary from carrier to carrier. The recommended date for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx is Dec. 15 for locations in the continental U.S., according to CBS News.

Croft says that’s several days sooner than last year, but “my gut tells me that’s still not enough.”

“They’re still quoting the Express Overnight, 2-day and 3-day (delivery) as if they will get there (as advertised); however, they have waived all guarantees on that. This year, it’s going to be so much better to play it safe (and order your packages early),” Croft says.

Croft says the number of people shopping online during the 2020 holiday season was unprecedented as a result of the pandemic. Package volume was through the roof because there was a new demographic of online shoppers.

The surge in online orders created massive delays.

“It was to the point where FedEx and UPS were behind. In certain areas, the Post Office was still delivering Christmas deliveries into April or May. So it took months for the Post Office to catch up,” Croft says.

Along with that, many employees contracted COVID-19 and were unavailable. Mail carriers hire temporary workers every year to keep up with the Christmas rush, and the widespread unavailability of employees added to the delays.

Earlier this year, the USPS announced it would implement new service standards as part of a 10-year plan to make mail delivery “more competitive and more modern.” Among the changes are longer first-class mail delivery and cuts to office hours nationwide.

“It also calls for dialing down delivery time expectations, which it notes the system has been unable to meet ‘over the past eight years,'” CNN reported in March. “It proposed changing the standard for first-class letters and flats to a five-day standard from a three-day standard. The Postal Service said that under the plan, it expects to deliver about 70% of first-class mail within three days.”

Croft says he’s noticed packages to Oregon that normally take two days are now taking three or four days to arrive.

ups truck
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The Postal Service launched a campaign in January to hire 100,000 employees in 2021. Croft says UPS and FedEx are planning to hire a combined 200,000 workers just for the holiday season. He estimates about 200 jobs will be available throughout eastern Idaho.

In previous years, the peak hiring season for the Postal Service has typically fallen somewhere between Nov. 9 and a few days after New Year’s. Considering all that’s happened in the last 18 months, this year’s peak season is slated to last from Nov. 7 until March 26.

“The carriers are all still very capable, but they’re just going to be loaded. This year, you’ll see UPS and FedEx drivers out until 10 (or later) to handle the load,” says Croft. “Our job is to make sure packages arrive on time, but it’s going to take (everyone we can get to make that happen this year).”

If you’re looking for seasonal work, the good news is that the Postal Service adopted a fast-track hiring process in 2019, which means the process for getting hired is faster and easier. If you can handle lifting light loads and getting in and out of a UPS truck all day, there’s likely a position available for you.

To apply for a job or learn more, click the links below.

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